Ellis and Smith are seeded fourth and made the most of their superior ranking to overcome Rasmus Espersen and Christine Busch in Thursday’s second round.
But the 21-19 21-13 victory over the Danes wasn’t to the Huddersfield player’s liking, safe in the knowledge they’ll need to improve if victory is to come their way in Birmingham.
“It was OK. We can do a lot better. We got the job done. Hopefully there are better things to come because it was just about good enough,” he said.
“They say the best wins are the ones when you don’t play as well. I disagree – I want to play well, win or lose.
“We’re our biggest critics. We know what we did wrong and what we did right and what we need to step up.”
This year’s event is being played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the absence of fans taking away some of the home advantage for the English contingent.
Ellis added: “The crowd definitely helps you when you’re winning, because it’s a snowball of momentum. When you’re dejected, for sure the crowd can also help.
“Sometimes you have to do it yourself. But we have missed the crowd this year, it’s sad that there’s nobody in the crowd. We’ve just got to hope it’s different next year.”
Ellis and Smith will face Mikkel Mikkelson and Rikke Soeby on Friday, just one win away from matching their semi-final run from 12 months ago.
And that’s far from the end of Ellis’s day, pairing up with fellow Olympic bronze medallist Chris Langridge in the men’s doubles.
The eighth seeds came through with a straight-games win over Callum Hemming and Steven Stallwood, and now face Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda – the third seeds from Japan – for a place in the semis.
Following a tough year for everyone, the YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships marks the first step in inspiring people to get back on court as soon as they can. For more information for the badminton community, visit https://www.badmintonengland.co.uk/return-to-play
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